When you write fiction, once you get past the technical/grammar/POV aspects, there aren’t a whole lot of rules. Guidelines, but those are flexible, boiling down to if you write well enough, if the story is riveting, you can “get away with” practically anything. There’s one bit of wisdom that I believe is a rule: raise the stakes. What’s the worst thing that could happen to your protagonist, the biggest muck they could make of the situation in front of them? Make that happen.
I remember, about a thousand years ago, the catchphrase in the pop psychology/self-help section of the bookstore was, “we write our own scripts.” Positive, empowering, offering the idea that we control what happens in our individual worlds. Imagine it for a second, with a laptop, a 99 cent Bic, or a pencil found in a goodie bag, we control it all.
Except we don’t. Sure we control how we respond to events in our lives, and many situations are the result of choices we make, but sometimes not. Some of these situations are the result of other people’s choices–say, being faced with terror of potential loss of health care and special ed services for a medical needs kiddo because other voters decided tax cuts and a pro life stance were more important than social services, social justice, and the needs of children and adults who’ve already been born.
The holiday season is always a bit tricky for those who deal with chronic medical needs. Those yucky viruses that are a nuisance for all can get complicated, more serious, and last longer than they do for the average healthy person. We’re quite used to medical mayhem here in Fringeland. It always sucks, but you do get used to the reality of a shifting normal, not necessarily expecting but being prepared for potential complications and unpleasant surprises. Or so you think. Because sometimes you go to Dr Pediatrician who sends you to Dr Specialologist who sends you back to Dr Pediatrician who sends you immediately to another Dr Specialologist who sees and diagnoses something completely unexpected, that may or may not have an underlying cause, but regardless, threatens the vision of kiddo. The vision. Both eyes. Of kiddo whose all-things-good come from the visual.
Yeah, sometimes shit just happens, and it feels like some sadistic fucking wizard behind the curtain is writing a manuscript where you and yours are featured, and (s)he’s snickering at they keyboard because they figured out how to raise. the. stakes. for the next few chapters. If I were writing this manuscript, this novel (remember–by definition, a novel is fiction) and wanted to raise the stakes for an already challenged artist? No hesitation, I’d threaten vision. If I actually could control this, could write my own script? Absolutely, I’d get my butt back in the chair, at the keyboard, and write for twenty-two hours a day. But this isn’t a novel, and I sure as shit didn’t write this manuscript.
I may skip decorating the tree, and let the crying sap be my holiday statement.